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Soft drinks group Nichols, maker of drinks including Vimto and Sunkist, is saving £100,000 a year after rolling out electronic document management and imaging software.

The software has been central to consolidating the financial processes of the group's five companies, the company said.

Allan Doyle, IT director at Nichols, said, "We realised that consolidating so many financial departments would be possible only with the right paperless technology in place that would provide a reliable and cost-effective means of getting invoices approved quickly and easily."

"We were able to deploy the software and train staff to use the system within a week, with the bulk of the cost savings coming from being able to reduce the number of purchase ledger clerks from six to one and being able to redeploy up to 70% of the accounts staff's time," Doyle said.

The software, which has been in place for three years, has allowed the company to cut the group's paper consumption by at least 80% by e-mailing sales invoices to customers and scanning all incoming documents. "As a result, we saw a return on our investment within three months of deployment," Doyle said.

The system, supplied by Version One, enables Nichols to archive electronic images of incoming and outgoing documents, which are then accessible to all authorised staff across the organisation.

Doyle said this has reduced the time taken to search for documents such as purchase invoices from as long as thirty minutes to just a few seconds.

Once the archive is backed up each day, all original documents are shredded, eliminating the need for physical storage space.

The authorisation module uses Nichols' wide area network to send electronic purchase orders around the organisation for approval. Once approved or rejected, the invoice is returned to the shared services centre for further action.

Doyle said holding documents in an electronic archive and delivering them electronically has also eliminated the risk of lost and wrongly filed paper documents, which was a common problem before the implementation of the system.

Nichols chose supplier Version One because its storage, authorisation, delivery and form design software met the business needs and was pre-integrated with the group's existing Sage ERP and accounting systems.



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